The great (children’s) bible hunt

Finding a suitable bible for a 6-year-old is proving more difficult than I had anticipated. Thus far, the said child and her father, both of whom love to read, have been very well served by The Jesus Storybook Bible. But they’re now both ready for the long-anticipated Stage Two, and the pickings really do appear to look rather slim and, it should be noted, depressing. At this stage, the responsible parent (no churlish comments here please; though, while we’re on the subject, you may wish to check this out) reckons that the NRSV Children’s Study Bible tops the list. The NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers not only sounds like a rare and exhausting disease that young readers would be better to be steered clear of at all costs but its pages are just a little too distracting (and I’m uncomfortable further lining Murdoch’s pockets!), and the ESV Seek and Find Bible has all the creepy hallmarks of a Watchtower magazine. I’d prefer something that doesn’t have the appearance of a glossy Warehouse catalogue [for US readers, think Walmart minus that hunting department so proudly sponsored by the demented Second Amendment], or isn’t filled with extraneous puzzles and ‘Christian’ propaganda, or which doesn’t reduce the words of life to a collection of sanitised McStories, each of which sponsor the impression that the Book is something other than serious stuff.

Suffice it to say that at this stage, I’m open to suggestions …

20 thoughts on “The great (children’s) bible hunt

  1. Weeeeelll… I have reasonably large (theological) objections to the Jesus Storybook bible, so clearly we’re not on the same page already! I prefer the Big Picture Story Bible, for the younger age group.

    We had the now out of print ‘Little Kids Adventure Bible’, which was awesome: it was a cut down NiRV: had all the text of the things it put in (same as a full text bible), but just not everything in there. And it sampled well: it included some Psalms, and some Proverbs, and some Epistles, for example. Things that were left out of the Beginners Bible (which my kids used… I use the BPSB for work with under 5s).

    I saw one advertised the other day, which I have yet to meet in person, The NIV (2011) Bible for Children: it’s full text, but has stories and pictures from the Big Bible Storybook (which our church uses with the Preschoolers). It’s on my list.

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  2. Well, it’s not a children’s bible, but for an illustrated bible you and the kids will turn to again and again and never outgrow, check out Barry Moser’s facsimile of the Pennyroyal Caxton KJV.

    His woodcuts are astonishing. Some of the pages you might need to tape together for nudity and “adult themes”–but that’ll just make the young ones want to read the bible more, right” :-)

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  3. I’m still looking too for my grand children Jason…so your post has encouraged me to keep persisting. There’s not much available here and I was horrified to see the recent NZ Bible Society leaflet displaying pink “princess” Bibles inter alia influenced by the worst of world of consumerism aimed at children. I welcome any further suggestions too.

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  4. In terms of translation, not presentation, I think the NIV and NRSV are not suitable for children, unless you REALLY want to teach them to speak Biblish, and if you are interested in encouraging foreign languages one of the Chinese Bibles might be more useful…
    How about the CEV, fine translation fairly simple English, or the New Living (so much better than the old one)…
    In a couple of years a bright chld will love the notes in the Word in Life Bible with CEV text, sensible notes on ancient context and suggestions for today as well.
    But I don’t know what there is for 6 year olds.

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  5. Thanks Tim. I too was wondering about the CEV and the NLT, and the GNB (which I seem to recall was aimed at under 10s but has those hideous 70s-looking ‘holy’ drawings). I’ll look again. Cheers.

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  6. For scripture classes (Kinder and Year 2) I’ve found any Contemporary English bible is okay. The great majority of the children are not exposed to the bible in any other setting so, in the brief period of time we have, this is the best option.

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  7. now Jason, beauty is in the eye of the beholder with the GNB ‘holy’ drawings…our kids and their dad, enjoyed the kind-of-corny squiggly art-work, especially the whole line-up of dudes, in trouble, in Proverbs. And besides they gave mild validation to my stick figure drawings in children’s talks. Plus, people were fairly skinny in the ‘olden days’, especially the hungry 5000. Another advantage – u have to use ‘hear the Word’, and use imagination for colouring, in your brain – a good habit.

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  8. Trevor – we’ll simply have to differ about the ‘holy’ drawings and what they may or may not communicate about the ancients’ abilities to live within their BMIs. But on your latter point, I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons for my preference for the (non-illustrated) NRSV Children’s Study Bible. Still, I’m keen to check out the CEV and the NLT as well. I do like the latter’s text very much. I trust that you are well, and praying daily for the PM and her team.

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  9. haha… thx Jason – appreciate the reminder to be ever diligent interceding ‘for kings and all who are in high positions’ – no matter how they got there! :)

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  10. Interesting aside about the CEV: there are some translational weirdnesses in the creation account, which we discovered the hard way while reading the text with our grade 5+ group a few weeks ago. God tells the people that if they eat [the fruit they are not to eat] they will die today.
    Um. Really? No other bible I’ve ever read tells me THAT. And it makes the snake look like he’s got it right.

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  11. Actually there’s a long tradition of such a more literal translation (the Hebrew reads beyom “in day”) KJV had “in the day that thou eatest” and most Bibles in that tradition follow this. Personally I think the newer “when” is a better rendering of the Hebrew. But it is not an oddity in the CEV.

    Interestingly the snake does not really work by lying (much) but uses the humans’ own arrogance against them.

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  12. In the King James Bible, The words are “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”

    Arguments about “when” achieve what?

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  13. In the copy of the KJV in front of me Gen 2:17 reads:
    “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen 2:17 KJV)
    I think we may not be on the same (metaphorical ) page. You seem to be quoting Eve’s misquote from 3:3 rather than God’s words from 2:17 that the snake was presumably referring to…?

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  14. I am quoting from Gen 3:3. In any case, with the ages of the children I teach, what is usually said is: God told Adam and Eve they could eat any fruit in the garden but not the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And we leave it at that.
    I would add that I receive some interesting questions and I never underestimate my charges. I learn heaps.

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  15. “Hands On Bible” First and Teen possibly? By the way, I work in the Public Safety field and we recently received the monthly guns and ammo catalog for those in the business. The theme was tongue and cheek “what to do for the coming zombie apocalypse” …strange.

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  16. I like the Egermeier’s Bible Story Book (with story revision by Arlene S. Hall) and as you can see from the 5 star review it is well liked. I have honestly never seen a better children’s Bible. It’s really the only one I know of its kind. Every other children’s Bible is way too simple in my opinion. I would even recommend this Bible to a new (adult) believer if all they wanted was to just get a basic idea of the Biblical narrative but didn’t want to read the whole Bible. My version has questions in the back for each story so it’s good for quizzing the kids after you have read the story. The questions do come from a more conservative perspective but even if that is not your slant you should give it props for encouraging at least some engagement with the text ;)

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